Air Show Report : Athens Flying Week 2018
Athens Flying Week 2018 - Tanagra, Greece
George Karavantos covers the Athens Flying Week 2018 Air Show at Tanagra, which again combined aerial demonstrations by the Hellenic Armed Forces with international formation teams and jet displays.
During the fourth weekend of September 2018, Greece's biggest air show, the Athens Flying Week, “took off” from Tanagra Air Base for the third year in a row. The Athens Flying Week 2018 was a huge success due to its perfect organization and great participation list.
Since 2016 the Air Show has moved to the more audience-friendly site of the Tanagra air base. It ensures ample space and allowed the audience to experience the take-offs and landings of their beloved jets and the amazing spectacle of the acrobatic teams' synchronized taxiing, with smoke, close to the crowd line.
Hellenic Armed Forces
Naturally, the Hellenic Air Force displays headed the line-up: The F-16 "Zeus" Demo Team (which flew in formation with a Blue Air B737-800 on Sunday) and the T-6A "Daedalus" Demo Team (which flew in formation with an Olympic Air ATR-42 on Saturday) each offered incredible displays on both days of the air show.
Thousands of Phantom fans should have been gratified by the presence of two specially marked F-4E Phantom IIs. The Phantoms of 338 Squadron flew in from Andravida Air Base to simulate a low altitude airfield attack on Tanagra Air Base.
Once again, a Μirage 2000EGM from 332 Squadron based at Tanagra engaged with a 330 Squadron F-16C Block 30 from Volos and performed a unique choreography of advanced combat manoeuvres for an epic dogfight act. These two aircraft also performed one low-level pass with an Aegean Airlines A320 on Sunday.
All the above mentioned fighters also performed a low pass over the field before starting their display.
Among other Hellenic Armed Forces aircraft was again the Apache "Pegasus" Demo of the Hellenic Army Aviation, showing off the Apache’s agility. The Hellenic Army Aviation also provided a one-off demonstration with paras jumping from a CH-47 Chinook. The Hellenic Navy’s S-70 Aegean Hawk provided a navy seal raid demonstration with fast rope insertion. The last military helicopter participating was a rarely seen HAF Super Puma, which performed a demonstration of the CSAR mission. An Hellenic Air Force CL-415 fire fighting aircraft once again flew in to water bomb the runway of Tanagra, which cooled off the hot tarmac as the temperatures got really high during the late summer weekend.
The "heavy metal" participants list also had a foreign F-16 display, this time again from Belgium. The Belgian Air Force is a great supporter of the AFW. The Belgian Air Force F-16 solo display act again thrilled the crowds with its precise and perfectly executed flying display, but this year in its new striking "Dark Falcon" paintjob.
The big surprise for this year’s AFW was the presence of not one but two F/A-18 Hornet displays, from Switzerland and Spain. This type of aircraft is not something that you see in every airshow, and especially for the AFW, it was the first time. Both solo displays fascinated the crowds showing the Hornet’s manoeuvrability with high Alpha turns and passes. Before its display, the Swiss F-18C Hornet flew a fly-over formation with the Swiss PC-7 Team. There were two turboprop demo teams in this year’s event. The aforementioned Swiss PC-7 Team was preceded by the Polish Aerobatic Team Orlik. Like the PC-7 team, Team Orlik simply got its name from the aircraft it flies, the PZL-130 Orlik, a Polish single engine turbo-prop trainer in the same class as the PC-7.
Two of the aerobatic aircraft seen in previous editions returned this year to perform unlimited aerobatics; the Italian “Silver Chicken” CAP 21DS and the “Dutch Rush” Su-26MX from the Netherlands. Each presents a unique demonstration that keeps impressing everyone, including fellow aviators. There was also a third civilian aerobatic aircraft in the line-up again, this time a Christen Eagle II coming from Germany. The sole civilian helicopter act was again the smoke pod equipped ‘Wizard helicopter aerobatics’ EC-120B, courtesy of a Greek transport company.
The two famous champions in glider aerobatics, Johan Gustaffson and Luca Bertossio, returned once again to perform their spectacular shows during the day and the night shows.
In addition to the flying displays, the public was able to admire two big surprises on static display. The first one was a pair of extraordinary MV-22 Ospreys, which announced their participation just one week prior. The second was the appearance of the new Italian training jet; the Leonardo M-346.
The Italian company Leonardo (formerly Alenia Aermacchi) took this opportunity to showcase its M-346 product to HAF officials in an effort to promote it as a replacement for the ageing T-2E. The T-2 Buckeye flown by the 120 Air Training Wing in Kalamata have been in service with the Hellenic Air Force for 42 years now and the average aircraft in the remaining fleet is not much younger.
Without a doubt, this year's AFW was again a very successful air show. The event attracts more and more aviation enthusiasts every year and we are sure it will become a pinnacle event for the European airshow scene.
Report and photos by George Karavantos ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 12 November 2018